I’m devoting my blog this month to the different things I think about while I ride…and that covers an awful lot of ground. It’s not that I have profound, earth-shaking thoughts. It’s that my mind flits from thing to thing, barely alighting long enough to form a cohesive chain of thoughts. My French teacher in high school once gave me a beautiful glass humming bird because she said it reminded her of me: never in one place for more than an instant.

Today was a nice ride. It’s only taken a few weeks of real winter to consider the 50-degree temperature this morning practically balmy. This evening it was about the same. Before the ride home, I had dinner with a dear friend from work who is only in town a few times a year. My father and oldest son (who also know her) joined us for a full fanfare Ethiopian meal complete with ceremonial handwashing and honey wine (not to mention spicy foods I’m sure to remember for the next several days). It was a wonderful evening.

After that wonderful set up, the ride home was chilly and not as comfortable as this morning but I didn’t spend much time chastising myself for not adding one more layer before I left the restaurant. Instead, my mind went to one thing that I can’t seem to get out of it lately – the subject of loss.

2010 was a difficult year with regards to loss. I lost my mother to Alzheimer Disease in June. She died at home after a long illness during which my father was her primary caregiver with the rest of us (myself, honey, and my kids) helping out when we could. At almost the exact same moment she died, honey was on a ride with a friend and the friend wrecked, inexplicably, and died instantly. Then, New Year’s Eve, honey’s father died very unexpectedly.

Now, I’m not a young woman; I’m in my late 40s and I’m fairly sanguine. I know people die, every last one of us. None are spared. I’m also not overly emotional about it. That’s not to say I’m not overly emotional about ANYTHING, just the big stuff. I can actually be horribly emotional about little, unimportant things. Ask anyone.

My mother’s death was much anticipated and I can’t deny it was welcome once she went into a coma and we knew there was no going back. Alzheimer’s is a long, downhill process. There is no turning around.

Honey’s father was another matter. He was quite a bit younger than my mother and it was a big surprise to us all. I had never met him. I had a chance to do so back in December but passed it up because I felt I just couldn’t afford the money for the trip and, besides, there would be other opportunities. Well, I was wrong. First time THAT’s happened.

I told you I’m sanguine and I am, but I’m struggling with a feeling, not just of having been cheated, but of having missed out on something critical. You see, there are four brothers in the family and each of them is married or has a significant other. And all of those “others” have met Dad but me. And now I never will.

If I were 16, I could be forgiven for reading some kind of significance into this. However, I’m 47 and I have no excuse for feeling this way. And yet, I do. It’s true I wanted to meet him badly as the father of four men I care about, but it was for what is turning out to be a really selfish reason that I am lamenting never having met him. I wanted his blessing as a potential member of the family…as if that is the thing that would finally make me a worthy candidate.

I told you it was selfish. And that’s why I can’t really tell anyone except my “blog-journal.” How dysfunctional we have become when we write and publicly post about all our innermost thoughts in order get them out but can’t manage to share them with the person or people to whom they’re actually directed. That’s the bottom line. I want to share this with someone in particular (who, by the way, almost certainly doesn’t read my blogs) but don’t want to actually say it because of all the stuff that would surely follow. And because, as selfish as I am, I know others are hurting much worse than I am and I don’t need to make it any harder for them.

So where does the bike come in? While I never met Jim, I did speak to him one time on the phone…the day I got my bike. I’m not sure how that came about and I’m furious with myself for not realizing how significant the conversation might. If I had, I would have committed every word to memory (yeah, like THAT would happen; I can’t reliably remember my kids’ names and I’ve only got two of them). As it is, I only remember his tone of voice – friendly and warm. He sounded like a teacher; a good teacher; like my own father. He had the love and respect of his children; he also clearly loved them immensely. And I never had a chance to be part of that group; never got to be part of the family.

I don’t believe in bad omen or luck; I don’t really believe in signs (not in the mystical sense); I believe in an omnipotent, all-loving God who is an active participant in our lives if we allow Him to be but I also believe in my own free will and self determination. And yet, for some reason, I also feel like this is a bad omen; a bad sign. I’ll always be an outsider because I never got the paternal blessing. OMG. I’m positively medieval. It’s downright embarrassing for an independent woman of the 21st century but there it is.

So in our only conversation we chatted about my bike, how much I loved it, and how grateful I was to honey for getting it for me (along with the help of my father). Then I got to tell him how wonderful his son is (which he apparently already knew) and how I wished he would come visit so I could meet him. He said he would. He was lying.

As I rode tonight, I thought some more about having been short-changed in life. About how I’m the only person in the whole world who’s ever been short-changed in life. And about how unfair it is. And then I realized that I’m riding steadily on, that the ride is nearly done and I’m almost home. That’s how it is with every ride. My mind travels numerous paths – some of them not so honorable, some of them pretty foolish, some of them a great use of my time, some of them not edifying in the least. It doesn’t matter. As with all things in our lives, the ride continues, the world keeps spinning. We can’t stop it any more than we can stop the seasons or the clock. Or death.

There is something so sweet and simple about riding the bike home from any place. It’s something I just don’t feel in the car. I don’t know why but it’s like Coco and I are one; we get each other and we’re always going the same place. My mind may take a pretty convoluted, circuitous route but we both always arrive together.

God bless you, Jim Gillette. You were a fine man. Wish I’d known you. Maybe I’ll take you for a ride sometime.

Til next time.